Exceptional ocean surface conditions on the SE Greenland shelf during the Medieval Climate Anomaly

Diatom inferred 2900 year long records of August sea surface temperature (aSST) and April sea ice concentration (aSIC) are generated from a marine sediment core from the SE Greenland shelf with a special focus on the interval ca. 870–1910 Common Era (C.E.) reconstructed in subdecadal temporal resolution. The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) between 1000 and 1200 C.E. represents the warmest ocean surface conditions of the SE Greenland shelf over the late Holocene (880 B.C.E.(before the Common Era) to 1910 C.E.). It was characterized by abrupt, decadal to multidecadal changes, such as an abrupt warming of ~2.4°C in 55 years around 1000 C.E. Temperature changes of these magnitudes are rare on the North Atlantic proxy data. Compared to regional air temperature reconstructions, our results indicate a lag of about 50 years in ocean surface warming either due to increased freshwater discharge from the Greenland ice sheet or intensified sea ice export from the Arctic as a response to atmospheric warming at the beginning of the MCA. A cool phase, from 1200–1890 C.E., associated with the Little Ice Age, ends with the rapid warming of aSST and diminished aSIC in the early twentieth century. The results show that the periods of warm aSST and aSIC minima are coupled with solar minima suggesting that solar forcing possibly amplified by atmospheric forcing have been behind the variability of surface conditions on the SE Greenland over the last millennium. The results indicate that the SE Greenland shelf is a climatologically sensitive area where extremely rapid changes are possible and highlights the importance of the area under the present warming conditions.

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Miettinen Arto, Divine Dmitry V., Husum Katrine, Koc Nalan, Jennings Anne (2015). Exceptional ocean surface conditions on the SE Greenland shelf during the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Paleoceanography. 30 (12). 1657-1674. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015PA002849, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00333/44458/

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